Have you ever skipped a meal? Have you ever skipped two or three meals? Have you ever fasted for several days? What happens when you skip meals? If you are like me, then your body becomes weak.
When Jesus and his disciples at their last meal together, it was an actual meal (Matt. 26:20-21,26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:14, 20; John 13:2,4). When the first believers came together after Pentecost, they ate meals together (Acts 2:42, 46 – see Acts 25:35-38 where “breaking bread” means eating a meal until satisfied). The believers in Troas came together for the purpose of sharing a meal (Acts 20:7). When the Corinthians believers come together, they ate a meal (1 Cor 11:20-21). When Paul corrected the Corinthians, he did not tell them to stop eating a meal together. Instead, Paul told them to make sure they are eating “together” because some were eating while others were going hungry (1 Cor 11:21). In fact, when Paul reminded the Corinthians of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, he reminded them that it was a meal (1 Cor 11:24-25). (For more info on the Lord’s Supper as a meal, see “The Lord’s Supper as a meal“.)
Sharing meals was very important in the first century Greco-Roman culture, and sharing meals was very important for the early church. When Jesus called the lukewarm Laodicean church back to himself, he called them to a meal (Rev. 3:20). When the Lord gathers all of his children together in the end times, he calls us to a meal (Rev. 19:9).
Sometime in the early history of the church, it was decided that meals were not important any longer (For more info, see “Why just the bread and the cup?“). The meal was replaced with a piece of bread and a sip of wine, or sometimes a piece of bread dipped in wine, or sometime just a piece of bread. The meal became symbolic, and the symbols began to take on more significance.
Could it be that the church has become weak today – and few will suggest that the church is not weak – because the church has been skipping meals for hundreds of years? Believers have not benefited from the fellowship and edification that comes from sharing a table and meal with other believers.
Meals can be messy, time-consuming things. It can be much simpler to skip meals. But, I believe, it is devastating to the body of Christ when the church decides to skip meals.